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Wednesday
Aug242011

9/11 Families Meet with AG Eric Holder About Phone Hacking Scandal

Chris Hondros/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Attorney General Eric Holder met with a small group of 9/11 family members to discuss what he called "very disturbing" phone hacking allegations against Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. and its now-defunct newspaper, News of the World.

The United States' look at the alleged hacking of phones of 9/11 victims and their family members comes just weeks after it was revealed that News of the World journalists engaged in a systemic conspiracy to pay bribes to British police and private investigators to hack into people's phones in Britain.

"It is fair to say we are pleased with the meeting with the attorney general," said Norman Siegel, an attorney who is representing some of the 9/11 families, after the meeting. "The allegations with regard to potential hacking of the 9/11 victims and their families is a very serious and substantial allegation.

"Hopefully the allegations turn out to be not true," Siegel said. "The 9/11 families have had too many tragedies already."

Holder met with the 9/11 families for about 75 minutes at the Justice Department headquarters along with Kevin Perkins, assistant director of the FBI's criminal investigative division and other officials.

The investigation is being run by Justice Department officials and FBI agents in New York and Washington, and assets from FBI headquarters.

"From everything we saw today it appears that the government is taking these allegations very seriously," said Peter Gadiel, whose son James died in New York during the Sept. 11 attacks.

Siegel said that the 9/11 family members who attended the meeting made three recommendations to the FBI and Justice Department officials: that the FBI get the 9/11 victims and family members cellphone numbers to see if the numbers were accessed after 9/11, that they expand the focus and scope of the investigation to look not only at cellphones but at computer records and emails, and that they look at news stories to see if personal information could only have come from hacking into phones or emails.

Justice Department officials declined to discuss the scope of the investigation other than to say it was in its preliminary stages, but the Justice Department and the FBI have established a hotline for the 9/11 family members to report any tips or concerns to law enforcement.

The family members said Holder and the FBI officials did not disclose if a grand jury had been convened to review information in the investigation.

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